El Chalten is a small town in Argentina popular with tourists for hiking and climbing. It takes about 15 minutes to walk from one end of town to the other. The town was established in 1985 to settle a border dispute with Chile.
I spent 4 days, 3 nights in El Chalten with plans to do two hikes, Laguna Torres to see Cerro Torres and Laguna de los Tres to see Cerro Fitz Roy. I had wanted to do a short hike on the day I arrived but my flight was delayed and I got in much later than I had originally planned. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in El Chalten as my introduction to Patagonia.
From the US I flew to EZE, the international airport in Buenos Aires located 22 km outside the city center. To catch a flight to El Calafate, Argentina you can choose between Aerolineas Argentinas or LATAM Airlines. Aerolineas Argentinas departs from EZE whereas LATAM Airlines departs from AEP, the domestic airport. When I initially booked flights LATAM airlines was cheaper. If you need to transfer between airports you can read more about it here. From El Calafate airport or bus terminal there are multiple bus companies that provide transport to El Chalten, Argentina. CalTur is one of the larger bus companies and charges 450 Argentinian pesos one-way from El Calafate to El Chalten.
In El Chalten it’s good to have cash. It’s suggested you get cash in Buenos Aires or any other major city before arriving in El Chalten in case the ATM in El Chalten runs out of money. At EZE there are multiple ATMs located outside the customs exit. Each ATM withdrawal is limited to $2400 Argentinian pesos with a $6 USD fee. You can read more about using ATMs in Argentina here. There is also a bank located inside the airport that offers a fair exchange rate. There are two entrances to the bank, one inside customs and one outside customs.
El Chalten is small, you can walk everywhere.
Where to Stay
There are numerous hostels and hotels in El Chalten. I stayed at the Rancho Grande Hostel. I found this via Booking.com. The hostel is located 15 minutes by walking from the bus terminal. The location is convenient for the two day hikes I had planned. Breakfast is not included but there is a kitchen and a 24 hour restaurant. I was also able to order a packable lunch to take with me on the hike.
What to Do